FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja says his team’s defeat to Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami on Wednesday was a “circus” and said that the Argentine should have been sent off.
Messi scored twice for Miami in a 3-1 win to move into the last-16 of the Leagues Cup but the Colombian coach was furious with the decisions of Salvadorian referee Ivan Barton.
Messi was booked in the 21st minute and Pareja felt he should have been dismissed with a second yellow after another foul.
“There was a double yellow card for Leo Messi. I don’t care that he was Messi. That affects the game. The match should be fair and that was not the case on the field.
“We take our responsibility, OK, we lost, we are frustrated but I have to say (this), you cannot hide this kind of situation,” he said.
The game was level at 1-1 until Miami were awarded a penalty when Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez went down after a slight tug in the box and Pareja was also fuming with that decision and the overall handling of the game.
“The attention that we get with all that is happening it becomes a circus, (this match) was a circus,” said Pareja, who was angered that the referee did not go to the monitor to review the penalty award.
“The penalty was unbelievable. Unbelievable. If the VAR was there and we have referees then we have to be honest and go and see it because the game deserved it,” he said.
“We’re frustrated. The people want to see soccer and things have to be fair, (in this game) it was not the case,” added the Orlando coach, who noted that Barton did go to the monitor later in the game to over-rule an Orlando goal.
Messi added Miami’s third — and his second — to complete a third straight win since the Argentine joined the club and the World Cup winner has scored five goals in those games.
The seven-times Ballon D’Or winner came in for some close attention, physical at times, from Orlando’s defenSe but his coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino said that was par for the course, especially in a derby.
“Just like when Barcelona play Real Madrid and River play Boca, these same things happen,” Martino said.
“We faced a very difficult opponent, it was very demanding. Teams have extra motivation (now) and I expect many more games like this, without a doubt.”
But the Argentine coach refused to be drawn on Pareja’s comments.
“I am not going to give my opinion on what Oscar Pareja said in his press conference. I respect his opinion, but we have to look forward having won our third game in a row, so that is our focus.”
Miami face FC Dallas in Texas on Sunday in the round-of-16 of the tournament for MLS and Mexican Liga MX clubs.